JP Title

The Korowai

THE LAST CANNIBALS
Irian-Jaya Indonesia

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Anduop belongs to the Korowai tribe of Irian Jaya, the Indonesian part of New Guinea. This island is one of the last strongholds of the tribal world. Anduop is a cannibal. He has killed and eaten five of his enemies. Anduop looks fierce, with his skin marked by scars that stand witness to numerous fights. His nose is adorned with pointed bones, and thin curved cassowary ribs rise up from his nostrils like the tusks of a wart hog. His frizzy hair is tied in small tufts with lightened ends. A tightly rolled up leaf is his penis sheath.

Cannibalism is part of a system revolving around the Kakua, a clandestine witch doctor obsessed with the taste of human flesh. Those accused of being Kakuas get chased, tortured, executed and eaten. Members of the Korowai tribe are terrified not only of Kakuas but also of the possibility of being wrongly accused of being ones.

Korowai Bone

Cassowary bone used to carve shields

For reasons of safety, the Korowai have chosen to live on treetops. Their impregnable keeps offer them protection from enemies, from evil forest spirits lurking around the ground, from heat as well as insects.

Korowai Shield

Korowai Shield

In this highly dense forest, game is scarce and very difficult to hunt for. When the Korowai kill an enemy, they bring the body back to camp.


It would be absurd to let this meat rot. It is left to hang and the softened well-hung flesh is then eaten in various forms. The brain is often eaten immediately after the enemy is killed, while it is still warm. Only small children and pregnant women do no partake in cannibalism. The leftover bones are discarded in nature and the skulls are hung from trees as a warning for potential assailants. The skulls are placed along jungle trails to discourage approaching enemies.